Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State on Saturday commissioned 22 one-bedroom brick apartments for rural dwellers living in thatched huts at the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital.
The governor commissioned and donated the houses to settlers of Wulari-Mafa, a makeshift community located outside Maiduguri along Maiduguri-Bama road in Jere Local Government Area of the state.
According to Mr. Shettima, the commissioning of the brick houses will signify his ambitious pet project code-named Borno State Stalk Houses Eradication Programme, which is aimed at eradicating the construction of thatched houses in the state.
It is estimated that the Northeastern state, with a population of about 4.6 million, and a land mass of 70,898 square kilometer, has at least 50 per cent of its houses made of thatch and stalk.
The governor recalled that he made the decision to replace the Wulari-Mafia thatched homes with bricks in early 2013 when he made an unannounced stop at their community.
Speaking at the commissioning, Mr. Shettima said “I am happy today that we are gathered to allocate houses to our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children in a community that for nearly fifty years lived under the rains and the sun, they lived in neglect, they lived in submission to what they thought was their destiny; their world of extinction, they never even thought for one day, that as humans, Nigerians and citizens of Borno State, they were entitled to shelter, water, healthcare and electricity which are the most basic of human needs.
“To these people you see here, they never expected anything from any Government; to these people, they were born to live under houses made of assembled stalks of corn, wheat and millet. That, they thought, was their portion. But as a Government, we say NO, NO and NO again, a life of anguish is not their portion. A life under stalk houses is not what they deserve. They are like all of us, they are humans, they are Nigerians, they are citizens of Borno; they deserve model shelter at no cost whatsoever, they deserve water, healthcare and liberty; they deserve to be treated with dignity.
“Let me also say this with emphasis and strong passion, that when we respect our followers, the vulnerable, the poor, the disabled, the sick and even the mentally challenged amongst us, we are not doing anything special to them. For me as a Muslim, it is divine for me to respect every human …”